Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Without reservation

Posted by boakley59 on December 31, 2011

Two years ago, I wrote about how things had gotten better in 2009 and how I looked forward to 2010 with a mix of hope and concern. I said I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions but I did make some observations and I combined these ideas into what I called my New Year’s “reservations.” The notion had a double meaning: Reservations can be doubts or they can be secured seats for a feast.

As it turned out, my reservations for 2010 mostly proved to be for seats at the feast. In fact, I ended up so busy and doing so well that I didn’t even stop to write a yearly review last December. I did a birthday wrap-up in September 2010 already glowing with the triumphs and joys of the first three-quarters of the year. The ride has been even smoother since then.

Early that September, I started helping a friend train for a half marathon. I couldn’t run far or fast after having been off for five years, but he was more or less a beginner and I could go short and slow and provide lots of advice from my long years of experience. As we continued, I rounded into what passes for shape for someone with chronic disease, and we picked up other friends to run with us.

I did a little bit of light volunteer office work that turned into a mostly stressless short-hours part-time job. It keeps me busy but shows me that I still can’t handle a full load, no matter how hard I keep wishing I could. That was all gearing up in December 2010, and I never sat down to look forward to 2011.

So, I’m here now to tell you that the reservations for 2010 kept my seat at an even bigger feast in 2011. My part-time work has been rewarding and reassuring: I contribute; I helped deflect the financial burden of two mortgages while our North Little Rock house was on the market; I do things that help my friends; I make new friends.

My running connections have expanded. Betsy Tucker hooked up with us in November 2010, already a good local runner but needing advice, plans and partners to improve. She finished 2011 as the Arkansas Female Masters (40 and older) Runner of the Year, setting two state Grand Masters (50 and older) records along the way. I had as much fun watching her race and improve as I once had doing my own racing.

Suzy got involved with the Women Run Arkansas training group in Batesville in February, too, and brought me along one night to perhaps be a volunteer coaching aide. I stuck with the program and helped many of the ladies continue through the year after the series ended in May. So, I became Coach Bruce for a couple of different groups, though I dare say I gained just as much from their enthusiasm and eagerness to improve as they gained from my counsel. Encouraging people to do hard things and sharing in their joy of achievement feeds your own spirit with jet fuel. Suzy and I have been able to do this together, too, which is a great gift. She has lost weight and caught the fitness bug, and jogging has been relief and reward in many ways.

Through it all, I have not put myself back in the hospital, which I guess means I’ve geared back appropriately and had smooth sailing for 16 months. It means I was strong enough to travel this year, too, and I got to see my family three times. We made the big trip to our meeting ground in Tennessee to see Mom, in from California with my cousin, and my sister came down from Virginia. We made two short trips to see my son, Courtney, in Oklahoma, too, including Christmas. It’s our first Christmas together in five years and the first time in six years I’ve been able to make more than the one big trip. A few years ago, Courtney had an emergency appendectomy and he was only four hours away by car, but I was too sick to go. So these extra trips are a big deal.

Good health, good friends, good works, good years. I have no reservation about keeping my reservations at this table.

Welcome 2012. Long may we run.


2 Responses to “Without reservation”

  1. Sarabeth said

    Bruce – so glad to know all this. Thank you for posting! We miss you guys here in NLR and at FN. 🙂

  2. I am glad to have been blessed with the opportunity to sit at the feast with you. God is good.

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